When Domenic Johansson was seven years old, he and his parents, Christer and Annie, were moving from their home in Sweden to his mother’s native India. They actually were seated aboard the jet waiting to take off.
Then Swedish police, dispatched by social workers infuriated over the family’s homeschooling, boarded the airliner, took Domenic by force and put him in the custody of the nation’s social services agency.
He’s been there since.
And he hasn’t even seen his parents since 2010, after social workers torpedoed what had been sporadic and supervised times together.
Now that nation’s Supreme Court is being asked to review what has been described as a “vicious” attack on the family, and supporters of the Johanssons say the rest of the world can chime in.
Officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association have confirmed that a lawyer working with the Johanssons is filing an appeal with the Swedish Supreme Court, aided by both the HSLDA and the international Alliance Defending Freedom.
They say those who are interested in justice in the case can contribute by sending a message to the court regarding case O-4373-15 with the request that the judges grant the family’s appeal.
The organization suggests that people point out to the court that “The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights recognizes the family as the fundamental group unit of society and entitled to protection of (and from) the state.”
“Now we are asking for your help in what may be their last hope and appeal to ever be reunited with their son,” HSLDA said in a new report on the situation.
HSLDA outlined the history of the case: Social workers enraged by homeschooling, which was legal in Sweden at the time, used police to abduct the little boy, and then added claims of issues with his vaccinations and teeth to the complaint. Then social workers, aided by the local courts, simply kept Domenic.
“Imagine – living just miles from your child but being prevented by government authorities from seeing him at all – for years,” HSLDA said. “This is the tragic story of the Johansson family, who were homeschooling in Sweden when they decided to move to India, Annie Johansson’s home country. The three of them were seated on a jetliner in June 2009 when, moments before takeoff, police and social workers boarded the plane and seized Domenic.”
The HSLDA said the initial explanation was the family’s homeschooling.
“Later they [officials] said the parents had neglected Domenic by failing to keep his vaccinations up to date and to have cavities in his teeth,” HSLDA said.
After years of court fights, in December 2012, the courts transferred the custody rights for Domenic to the state, and the European Court of Human Rights has rejected appeals submitted to its officials.
Domenic’s parents now have left the “tenuous thread of hope” with a petition filed by Ruby Harrold-Claesson, a human rights attorney and chief of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights.
Her appeal is to the Swedish Supreme Court.
“This is a tragic case. Unfortunately, it’s not the only one I’ve dealt with in Sweden, but it is very tragic,” she told HSLDA. “Our previous victory in a lower court was so diametrically opposed to the appeals court’s ruling that this appeal should be heard. The Swedish court culture is vicious to families who are caught in it. I’m doing all I can for this family, but it is very difficult.”
“The Johansson case represents every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Mike Donnelly, the head of HSLDA’s global outreach. “Domenic should have been returned to his parents years ago, but the Swedish social services machine is pitiless and unrelenting. I can’t even imagine the pain and suffering this family has endured. HSLDA and our allies at ADF are committed to helping this family, but the outcome is doubtful absent a miracle.
“Even if we win, the damage done to this family by the Swedish state is unimaginable. We need our friends to pray and show solidarity with the Johanssons as we try to get the attention of the Swedish court,” he said.
A recent ruling from the international human rights body said, “The applicants had failed in their care of [Domenic], both physical and psychological.”
It claimed Domenic “had not been allowed to go to school” and was “isolated.”
But WND reported legal experts argue Swedish officials violated multiple human rights enshrined in international treaties to which the Swedish government is a party: the right of parents to direct the education of their children, family life, due process, travel and more.
“The seizure of the child without a valid court order, from a plane he was lawfully entitled to be on, the detention by the state in foster care with virtually zero contact with his family and finally the termination of parental rights is a clear violation of international human rights standards,” HSLDA founder and Chairman Michael Farris, who holds a master of law degree in public international law from the University of London, said earlier.
Swedish officials several times have declined to respond to WND questions.
When the family tried to leave Sweden in 2009 for India, the mother’s homeland, armed police stormed the plane and abducted young Domenic without a warrant or court order.
Numerous experts and attorneys have described the incident as a brazen example of “state-napping.”
When one court decision was released in Sweden in favor of the parents, government officials simply kept Domenic in custody until they were able to get it reversed.
Legal experts from around the world have told WND that the pretexts cited to seize Domenic do not stand up to scrutiny, especially because homeschooling was legal in Sweden at the time, and the right to homeschool is guaranteed under multiple human rights treaties.
“No legitimate justification has ever been produced to defend the seizure or the ongoing custody of the boy,” HSLDA said.
Dozens of families have already fled abroad, including Jonas Himmelstrand, the chief of the Swedish Homeschooling Association, ROHUS, who fled to Finland with his wife and children.